In response to the cancellation of Leverage, I’m writing as a fan of the show. I’ve been a fan since the first episode five seasons ago. I started watching because it was on during hiatus for most shows and it had a former Angel actor on it: Christian Kane. As Joss Whedon is one of the only show creators that I followed from show to show, I tried to do the same with the actors/actresses from his shows. Plus, this has Tim Hutton on it so it can’t be too bad, right? I knew nothing of Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, Gina Bellman, Dean Devlin, Chris Downey, or John Rogers at the time. You see, for most shows, you remember the characters and sometimes the actors unless they’re someone like Joss Whedon who has a huge following of geeks like me because he creates epic series that have a bad habit of getting canceled too soon.
I knew I was hooked from the very first episode but it wasn’t until after season 2 ended that I became deeply embedded in the fandom. Fandoms are a tricky business. For those outside a fandom, the whole ‘fandom’ phenomenon is unknown and baffling. Because most shows have fans but not all shows have fandoms. But the Leverage fandom sucked me in quickly. I started following the actors on Twitter first. Then came the creators, the writers, the directors, the guest stars, and sometimes even the crew. While filming, the cast, writers, and crew would post pics and videos behind the scenes which the fans ate up like it was candy. The fandom started caring about these people outside their world of Leverage. People would go to Supernatural conventions to meet Aldis, go to Kane concerts to meet Christian, or go to Leverage conventions and fan-run conventions to meet the cast and company. We’d support Beth’s sister, Aldis’ brother, Tim’s son, and Christian’s friends’ music careers out of love for the Leverage actors. We’d flock to John Rogers blogs with questions and comments about the shows. We’d pounce on the Leverage episode podcasts and production videos. We’d watch old shows and movies with the cast in it plus watch everything they guest starred in during hiatus. We were invested. They became like family to us. Not just with the cast, but with the creators, writers, guest stars, crew and company behind Leverage. We’d wish them happy birthday, congratulate them on their engagements, anniversaries, or new babies. We’d chat with them on Twitter and Facebook when we could. We’d squee if they RTed our fanvideos or fanart. There are probably millions of fansites, fanvideos, fanfiction, fanart, and tumblr posts about Leverage now.
If you’re in this deep, this is fandom – you’re swimming in it.
What causes a show to have such a following? It’s hard to say. From the beginning, Leverage was different. I remember trying to decide what category to put it in for some award show and it was tough. Is it a drama? There are a lot of funny and silly moments in the show so it’s hard to say it’s completely a drama. Is it a comedy? No, absolutely not. I’ve cried too many times watching it for it to be a comedy. Is it a crime drama? There is crime, there is drama, but it doesn’t seem to fit that either. Basically Leverage is among the handful of shows that is so unique it cannot be classified as one thing.
But much like the fact you cannot pigeon hole it into a category – you cannot label the characters either. Nate, the mastermind, is an honest man but because of circumstances he crawls into a bottle and stays there until these four people convince him that they can do good things even if they have to break the law to do it. And he ends up having a new family to ease the pain of losing his last family. There are times we hate him for the things he does to the teams and other times we love him. Hardison is a brilliant computer hacker. But he’s also the heart of the team most of the time by reminding them why they’re doing things or convincing them that they can be good. Parker is the most unique character on the show. The first episode you think she’s completely insane but soon you realize its more than that. She’s been broken by some bad things in her life and she doesn’t know how to live her life like normal people so she learns from her team. And she’s so endearing because she wants to do good, she tries so hard, and her struggle then accomplishment makes you realize that people can overcome a bad childhood that damages them to the core. This team of thieves teach her what a family is. Eliot is the muscle and is the most protective one but despite his easy apparant annoyance at each of his fellow teammates, he truly loves them even if he shows it in gruff ways. And the strange affection he has for children, especially endangered children, is the opposite of what you’d expect from the tough guy. Sophie is mysterious and you never feel like you really know her until you see her mothering/sisterly bond with the ‘kids’ and her grounding effect on Nate. As he said in Season 2, she is his compass. They balance each other out. When one starts to go off the deep end, the other one pulls them back. Part of the reason why I love these characters so much is because I want to believe that these thieves can actually do the right thing and can right the wrongs in the world. You don’t have to be perfect or have a sparkling clean past to be a good guy, a hero. Because sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.
I think the reason why Leverage struck such a cord with people these days is because life is tough and there are more monsters who wear suits and ties, executives in corporate business worlds and corrupt politicians. It’s a dog fight out there and usually the big dog wins: not the every day person like all of us. So when we work a 50+ hour work week and still can barely make ends meet, when we have to chose between paying for groceries, having a roof over our heads, or health insurance for our kids, it’s nice to sit down and for an hour forget your troubles and watch a show where someone wins one for the little guy.
Aldis Hodge Online came to be because of a fabulous actor in Leverage sparked my interest and I felt like he deserved a fanpage. I’ve grown to love Aldis in everything he’s in and for the person he is off-screen. This page will continue after Leverage is no longer. But Leverage is what made me aware of Aldis. And the cast and crew helped support this page and in the almost three years its been active I’ve raised over $5,500 for the LA Mission for the Homeless. I could never have done it without the support of the cast and creators of Leverage and Electric Entertainment plus the fans of Leverage. Electric Entertainment gave me so many things to auction off and the fans donated so much. For a small fandom, its amazing how much money was raised in a short time out of mutual love for Aldis Hodge and Leverage. This fandom helped the real ‘little guy’ and fed the homeless. And it was beautiful and an amazing feeling that love for an actor and TV show could translate into something so meaningful to people who have nothing. I’ve never been so proud to be part of a fandom!
I’d like to thank Dean Devlin, Chris Downey, and John Rogers for creating the world of Leverage for us. For without them, there would be no Leverage. This page wouldn’t exist because I discovered Aldis Hodge through their creation of Hardison.
In this fandom, you don’t just fall in love with Parker, Hardison, Nate, Sophie, and Eliot – you fall in love with Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, Gina Bellman, Tim Hutton, Christian Kane, Dean Devlin, John Rogers, Chris Downey, AND everyone who works at Electric Entertainment (how many shows do you know who creates them!?!). You grow to adore the lovable frequent guest stars – Mark Sheppard, Clayne Crawford, Drew Powell, Jeri Ryan, Wil Wheaton, Tom Skerritt, Saul Rubinek, Goran Visnjic, Kari Matchett, Leon Rippy, and Richard Chamberlain, plua the one episode guest stars. You admire and fangirl (or fanboy!) the amazing writers – Geoffrey Thorne, Albert Kim, Scott Veach, Amy Berg, Rebecca Kirsch, Melissa Glenn, Christine Boylan, Paul Guyot, Jeremy Bernstein, Jenn Kao, Josh Schaer, Joe Hortua, Mike Colton, Josh Schaer, and many others. Not to mention the fabulous Rachel Olschan, Paul Bernard, Nadine Haders, Pete Dowd, Jonathan Frakes, Paola Ferrari, Jose Behar, Marc Roskin, and the directors. Thank you to all of the crew in both LA and Portland that helped make this fabulous show.
And thank you to my friends and the other fans in this fandom for making it what it is. I’ve made so many friends in this fandom – some I consider my best friends. And they’ve always been there for me. Sometimes this fandom is a little nutty or dramatic, but at the heart of it is a lot of good people. We couldn’t save our show but damnit we tried. As Nate said in the Season 1 finale: “We made a difference, remember that.” We’re now family and we shall forever be ‘Grifters’ in honor of this show.
Since someone recently asked me, let me assure you – as for Aldis Hodge Online, the show will go on. TNT can’t cancel me and I’ll be here as long as Aldis is acting. As much as I love Leverage with all my heart and wish he would be acting with the rest of that family of actors, I think Leverage was a launching pad for Aldis. I think he’s going to continue to grow into a star. Maybe it will be as the Black Panther or as baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Or it will be another part we haven’t heard any buzz about yet. But this man is going to a household name someday. And I want to stick around to see that happen because I think he deserves all the support.
If its blocked in your country, here it is on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/56602376